Black Hole Swallowing a Neutron Star Detected

NASA Black Hole Devouring a Star

NASA Black Hole Devouring a Star

The current discovery was made using gravitational-wave discovery machines in the United States and Italy, which detected ripples in space and time from the "cataclysmic event" that happened about 8550 million trillion kilometres away from the Earth. It's not a sure thing yet, although the initial analysis says S190814bv is a neutron star-black hole merger with greater than 99 percent confidence.

Gravitational waves were predicted in general relativity, but no one had been able to verify their existence before LIGO came online. The difference is that the gravitational pull of a black hole is thousands of times greater than that of a neutron star - meaning a black hole would come out as the victor in any space collision between the two.

The Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), is the most sensitive scientific instrument ever built and made up of twin detectors in the US.

"About 900 million years ago, this black hole ate a very dense star, known as a neutron star, like Pac-man-possibly snuffing out the star instantly", Susan Scott, from the Australian National University, said in a statement.

Scientists may have observed something that has never been seen before: a black hole swallowing a neutron star.

Over the past week, physicists have been buzzing over an August 14 detection made by the twin LIGO detectors in Hanford, Wash., and Livingston, La., as well as by the European Virgo gravitational-wave detector in Italy.

Scientists are anxious to spot a neutron star colliding with a black hole because it could reveal much about these super-dense star remnants.

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The gravitational waves race out faster than other electromagnetic waves, giving astronomers a chance to try and detect other signals emitted by the event.

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So, while it would be exciting for scientists to confirm that this is a merger between a black hole and a neutron star because it's something no one has ever seen before, any of these possible outcomes would mark a step forward in scientific exploration.

Image at top of page: On March 28, 2011, NASA's Swift detected intense X-ray flares thought to be caused by a black hole devouring a star.

'The ANU SkyMapper Telescope responded to the detection alert and scanned the entire likely region of space where the event occurred, but we've not found any visual confirmation'.

The detectors have witnessed black holes merge with black holes and neutron stars merge with neutron stars, but had yet to the two annihilate one another. "If it turns out to be right, then we've confirmed a new type of star system".

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